Two men who were arrested on El Camino Real for a bicycle theft last Thursday, Oct. 25, have been booked on an array of charges, including possession of burglary tools, Palo Alto police announced today, Oct. 30.
Police arrested Erik Hernandez-Estrada, 24, and Juan Carlos Hernandez-Ortega, 25, both of Alviso, after a Palo Alto patrol officer recognized them from surveillance video that recorded them stealing a bicycle from a residence on the 3000 block of Louis Road less than 24 hours earlier.
The officer saw the men riding bicycles in the 3000 block of El Camino Real at 10:30 a.m.
Officers stopped the men, saw that they showed signs of being under the influence of a controlled substance and detained them for further investigation.
Both men were in possession of burglary tools, including a punch tool that can be used to break windows, screwdrivers, a pry bar and metal cutters. Hernandez-Estrada was in possession of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and a switchblade knife, police said.
Officers went to Hernandez-Ortega's Alviso home and recovered the stolen Louis Road bicycle, a Raleigh Talus valued at about $365, which was locked to a stationary bicycle stand with a cable lock. The men allegedly cut the lock and stole the bicycle around 3 p.m.
The victim reported the theft to police about 45 minutes later and provided police with video surveillance footage of the two suspects, police said. Officers have returned the bicycle to the victim.
Police believe that the bicycles the men rode when arrested are also stolen. One is a white, 21-speed Citizen folding bicycle, and the other is an orange, one-speed Huffy beach cruiser. Police are holding the two bicycles at the station until their ownership can be determined. Anyone who knows the owner of either bicycle is asked to contact the Palo Alto Police Department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413.
Hernandez-Estrada and Hernandez-Ortega were booked at the Santa Clara County Main Jail for being under the influence of a controlled substance, conspiracy, possession of stolen property and possession of burglary tools. All are misdemeanors. Hernandez-Estrada was also booked for possession of methamphetamine, which is a felony, and two misdemeanor charges: possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a switchblade knife.
The men have not been connected to any of the recent residential burglaries in Palo Alto, but police said residents should be aware of suspicious behavior by people on bicycles in neighborhoods. Such behavior could include leaving bicycles on sidewalks or in driveways and then approaching multiple homes on foot to knock on front doors or to open side yard gates.
Potential burglars will often ring the doorbell, posing as a solicitor or supposedly looking for someone who does not live there, police said. Residents are encouraged to speak through the doors to ask who is calling, or otherwise acknowledge in some manner that someone is home.